Whether by design or not, the black comedy has come roaring back to life in cinemas over the past few months.  One only has to acknowledge the victory of Birdman at the Oscars as proof that this minor sub genre is undergoing a resurgence in popularity.

Thankfully though, there have been other examples of films with the black stuff pumping through their veins to satisfy fans of this under-appreciated strand of comedy.  Nightcrawler with a career best Jake Gyllenhaal turn was that other entertainment satire that got no love from the Academy, but its tale of the TV news rat race in LA is well worth a watch.

If you like comedy with a nastier edge, The Voices is the one for you, it is at times hilarious and then extremely disturbing, black and red in equal measure.  Ryan Reynolds delivers a standout performance in this defiantly oddball character study.

And it’s not just Hollywood; foreign films have been getting in on the act too.  Wild Tales from Argentina and Force Majeure from Sweden are still playing in cinemas and both very good.  The former tells six short stories of human frailty with a frenetic energy, it’s a vengeful hoot from start to finish.  Force Majeure is a very different story, one of a married couple under pressure in the French Alps, and though more of a drama than the others, there are plenty of awkward laughs to be had as you find yourself in the middle of a two hour domestic.

Although these films are very different from each other, they share a little of the same DNA; don’t forget, it’s even funnier laughing when you’re not supposed to.  Rent, stream or just flat out pay in to the cinema.



Despite not making a decent movie in decades, veteran filmmaker John Carpenter’s influence is creeping back into your local multiplex.  As well as releasing his debut album last month (at 67) the grand old man of horror is all over two particular releases in the past year.

Late last summer, The Guest arrived and it was something of a cult smash.  Using Carpenter’s gift for synth scores and genre hopping, director Adam Wingard churned out a very effective B-movie.

Picking up the baton with It Follows is David Robert Mitchell who, again employs Carpenter-esque DIY, ominous synths but this time plays it more or less straight up with a story of STDs or Sexually Transmitted Demons in the suburbs, all very Halloween!

The premise may be daft as a brush but It Follows carries some real menace and there is every chance you will check over you shoulder on leaving the cinema.

The one element that ties the two movies together, besides the influence of JC is Maika Monroe as the female lead.  The newcomer holds the screen like a natural with a winning blend of smarts, toughness and teenage angst.

If you enjoyed those two, you could do a lot worse than go back to the source and check out one or all of Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York and of course Big Trouble in Little China.

It Follows is on general release.


One of the most welcome developments for Dublin movie lovers in recent years has been the growth of specialised movie screenings. From bona fide classics to ‘so bad they’re good’ favourites to cult movies and sing alongs, programmers seem to have gotten the message loud and clear; the public wants greater diversity.

Starting next Thursday, Rathmines Omniplex in association with Newstalk brings back its classic movie screenings, starting with Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic Rear Window.  This cool, sexy thriller is one of the signature movies of the 1950s and well worth a view on the big screen, 50s clobber optional!

This year’s crop is particularly strong on the early, star-making performances of Grace Kelly (Rear Window) Shirley MacLaine (The Apartment)  Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon)  DeNiro (The Deer Hunter) Brando (On The Waterfront)  and Newman (The Hustler).

And It’s particularly satisfying to find Billy Wilder’s little seen classic Ace In The Hole on the list; along with Spartacus, a cracking double for Kirk Douglas fans.

Rear Window

On The Waterfront


The Apartment

Raising Arizona

The Hustler

Dog Day Afternoon

The Deer Hunter

Ace In The Hole

The Guns Of Navarone

The Graduate


The field of biopics and historical dramas is littered with the corpses of bloated, self important bores like Ali, Ray and The Aviator. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find Selma such an engaging, powerful piece of work.   But what does this film get right that so many others of its genre do not? Quite a lot as it turns out.  Most importantly,  Ava DuVernay’s version of the Civil Rights struggle for voting rights in Alabama in 1965 focuses, laser-like on that particular issue and does not purport to be the life story of Martin Luther King.

This gives the film an exciting momentum as we get to familiarise ourselves with some of the complexities involved, unlike for example ‘Ali’ where many huge moments in American history are briefly touched upon in a few minutes of screen time.  The promotion of secondary characters is also a welcome trait of Selma, we get to see the leadership of the Civil Rights movement, aside from Dr King all have brief but meaningful moments in the spotlight.  These range from John Lewis to Andrew Young to King’s wife Coretta and there’s even a welcome, key cameo from Malcolm X.

Again, unlike many of its peers, the storytelling in Selma is lean and efficient and although the screenplay is in many cases a by the numbers re-telling of the story, its ability to engage remains constant.  One note of controversy has been the excellent portrayal by Tom Wilkinson of Lyndon Johnson, many LBJ acolytes have criticised the film for seeming to suggest that he was not exactly on the same page as Martin Luther King about the importance of voting rights for black citizens.  Be that as it may,  it’s refreshing to see a white character in this kind of film not ride to the rescue of the oppressed minority a la the Blind Side, anyway Johnson is no out and out villain like George Wallace (Tim Roth, excellent) rather a shrewd, cautious operator with his heart possibly in the right place.

The real aces in the pack though are the the performances which are terrific, each and every one, but special praise has to go to David Oyelowo as MLK.  The British actor does a phenomenal job in the big and small moments, conveying the fears, hopes and dreams of a complex man who knew an early grave beckoned, its Oscar worthy .  Selma doesn’t over egg the pudding but rather hums along with a quiet authority and manages to be both exciting and insightful, a must.

Click to listen

Public Service Broadcasting – Gagarin

Purity Ring – Repetition
Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4
John Carpenter – Vortex
My Morning Jacket – Wordless Chorus
Weezer – Back to the Shack
Buffalo Woman – U make me high
Bitch Falcon – Wolfstooth
America – you can do magic
Real Lies – North Circular
Phosperescent – The Quotidian Beasts
Chromatics – Camera
Lower Dens – To Die in LA
Damon Albarn – Mr Tembo
Oh Wonder – Lose it
Interpol – My Desire
Bob Marley – Iron Lion Zion
Sohn – Bloodflows
And So I Watch u from afar – run home

The link for the show

1 Mew – Satellites

2 badbadnotgood + Ghostfacekillah – Gunshowers
3 Father John Misty – chateau lobby #4
4 Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at best
5 Jape – This Chemical Sea
6 Tom Petty – American Girl
7 Kaytranda – At all
8 Alt J – Hunger of the pine
9 Lower Dens – To die in LA
10 Phospherescent – The quotidian beasts
11 Gaz Coombes – 20/20
12 Billy Bragg – Way over yonder in the minor key
13 Temples – Shelter song
14 The Notwist – Kong
15 Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp
16 Dutch Uncles – Be Right Back
17 Belle and Sebastian – I’m a cuckoo


Click here to listen

1 Thumpers – Unkinder

2 Chvrches – Dead Air

3 Panda Bear – Mr Noah

4 Genesis – I know what I like

5 Dev Hynes – Palo Alto

6 John Southworth – Ode to the Morning sky

7 Natalie Prass – Bird of Prey

8 Viet Cong – Continental Shelf

9 America – You can do Magic

10 Arctic Monkeys – Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?

11 The Charlatans – So oh

12 Sleator Kinney – Surface Envy

13 Jape – Seance of Light

14 Dimman – Sigmal

15 Portishead – All Mine

16 The Replacements – Can’t Hardly Wait

17 Oh Wonder – The Rain